14 Comments

Disappointing the Christian Republicans, It Hurts: 1997 – present

The last bit of this reads like I’m a PhD.  I’m not. I have a BA in English.  In the larger piece, that is clear before you get here.

Hanging out with some friends this weekend, we were talking about our parents and how it’s easy to say, “I don’t care what they think,” but that we never mean it. On some level, no matter how grown up and independent and smart and knowledgeable we become, we  will always crave our parents’ approval.  I am no exception, but I guess I don’t want their approval enough to engage in things I think are barmy.  Onward.

From Flickr User BuckDaddy

From Flickr User BuckDaddy

There are two classifications that are deeply important to my parents. The first is Christian, and if you can claim that one, you get a pass on everything else, even if you do not also espouse the second, Republican.  It helps if you are the Rush Limbaugh sort of Republican, because like a lot of my peers with Jon Stewart, My parents’ only source of news and analysis is Rush. They use terms like “feminazi” and “Slick Willy” without irony. I stopped paying attention, but I shudder to think what that lunatic is saying about Obama beyond “produce your birth certificate, Towel Head!”

When I told my father that I didn’t think I believed in God anymore, he wrung his little hands and said, “Where did we go wrong?”

I have attended a couple of holiday church services with them since leaving home, and each time I do, my poor dad gets this watery-eyed hope on his face that breaks my fucking heart. It is so important to him. I want to rub his back and say, “Dad, I love you, but this is not the answer for me. Don’t worry. In my own religious absolutism, my soul is just fine.” I also want to shake him and say, “If all this supernatural shit you believe about God is true, isn’t it reasonable to expect that god can be anything to anyone? How can you presume to understand anything about God?”

My father used to be my guide in all intellectual pursuits. To his credit, he gave me the sense of what it means to engage in critical thinking. He was just not expecting that to backfire on him. He was expecting me to continue to inoculate myself in his traditions and rhetorics and do the correct kind of critical thinking.  He cautioned me as I announced that I’d be starting college not to let those “liberal idiots” in academia turn me into one of them.

I can’t be sure, but I think he got the following from Rush, which he repeats with glee whenever anybody mentions educated people’s opinions.  BS PhD = Bullshit, Pile higher and deeper.

And so it is that I am a massive disappointment to my parents.

14 comments on “Disappointing the Christian Republicans, It Hurts: 1997 – present

  1. You are brilliant. [2 or 3 sentences about parenthood here, each of which could be misconstrued. Nevermind.] I am proud to know you.

  2. That is, I TYPED 2 or 3 sentences. Each one was stupid. So I deleted. :)

  3. Have you ever stopped to consider putting the foot on the other shoe.
    Your Dad isnt disappointed in you, hes worried.
    1 he raised you, what will his God say to him when he dies About his being the religous leader of the house. With an atheist daughter.
    2. Hes worried about you. His God is building him a room in Heaven for when he dies so he doesnt die but can live eternally. You will not be their with him.
    3. When he has those concerns for you he also has them for the future of his family Grandchildren great grandchildren ect.

    I would encourage you to find a study called Alpha. It is an atheistic view on Jesus life as a study that has chamged my mind.

  4. It’s difficult to know what to say to a parent whose beliefs are vastly different from your own. For the most part, I find it’s easier to disagreed openly with them on small things, like health care or the environment. I avoid talking about religion, and I pretend to go along when I’m visiting them. It doesn’t create an open, honest, relationship, but I learned a long time ago that I don’t need to fight every battle with my mother, nor leave her fretting about my soul (she probably does anyway). I’ll never convert her and she’ll never convert me, so I’d rather find common ground and spend our remaining time together exploring those areas. Am I a wimp? Perhaps.

  5. Continuing that thought – even my life partner and I disagree on religion and spirituality. I don’t understand why people can’t respect my atheism. They seem to think I’m completely nuts. My certainty that there is no conscious being conducting the world’s grand symphony seems very threatening to them, whether they are Christians, new agers, Hindus, or Wiccans.

    • Ann, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I do not think of myself as an atheist, I do believe in a higher power, but I do not think it is important to ascribe it consciousness. I think about fate and spirit and the non-corporeal world, but I do not like to draw conclusions about it. :-)

      Having said, I generally get along with my parents. I also generally avoid discussing politics and religion, but there is certainly and undercurrent of energy from them, and they express disappointment/worry/fear non-explicitly.

      But I absolutely agree with you that we should all strive to live and let live.

      Cheers!
      A

    • People are intimidated by smart, articulate women. They are frightened by people who are comfortable NOT searching for G/god. I applaud you. Your atheism is welcome here anytime. :-)

  6. Speaking as someone who was raised by militant atheists who still managed to be fairly awful people, there are a few ugly truths I’ve had to accept in life:

    1) You are always a disappointment to someone, and the more you’re an inspiration to some, the more you’re pissing off someone else.

    2) Sometimes you have to cut people out of your life for your own benefit. It’s sad and difficult and always leaves a scar, but the same can be said of tumor removal. If something is killing you, remove it.

    I’m not saying your parents are necessarily at that level…just that if they are (or to anyone else reading), you should know that you are entitled to protect yourself, and you are obligated to protect your child. And it’s okay to make that decision.

    • I like it, Kimberly!

      You have swell perspective. I think you are absolutely right. And at one time or another, I reckon we all struggle with what you’re talking about.

      I actually really enjoy my parents as humans. They are sweet and despite it all, they love me. I am mostly angered & upset about how it comes ever more to light how damaging their insistence on Christianity (I suspect the same would be true of any religion, even Atheism–some people need god, and I am right with that) was to my wee psyche, my coming of age, my growth into an educated, feminist woman…
      :-) thanks as always for your commentary, Kimberly. :-)

  7. April. I love how open you are on your blog. I will look for them more frequently going forward. Hope you are doing awesome.

  8. I’ll read your memoir, for sure. Your honesty gives me chills–the kind that make you think about how to be a better person.

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